US imposes sanctions on Nicaragua's attorney general

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday sanctioned Nicaragua's attorney general for her role in the government's "unjust persecution of political prisoners and civil society," the U.S. Treasury Department said.

Wendy Carolina Morales Urbina, who has been the country's attorney general since 2019, "has exploited her office to facilitate a coordinated campaign to suppress dissent by seizing property from government political opponents without a legal basis,” Brian Nelson, the department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

Protests erupted in Nicaragua in 2018 when President Daniel Ortega's government moved to reduce welfare benefits and then escalated into broader opposition to the Cold War-era former Marxist guerilla leader who has been in office since 2007.

In 2023, Ortega deported 222 political prisoners on a flight to Washington, declaring them traitors who can never serve in Nicaraguan public office or hold Nicaraguan citizenship, the Treasury said.

The State Department said earlier this month it would hit Nicaragua with arms restrictions and curb the import and export of U.S.-origin weaponry and defense services destined for or originating in the Central American nation.

(Reporting by Katharine Jackson; Editing by Eric Beech)